Top 5 on The Strip: Marvel stuff we’re anticipating edition

Loki series sea­son 2

We’re huge fans of Loki around here, and the God of Mischief’s first sea­son of his Dis­ney Plus show­case was fan­tas­tic. Sus­pense­ful and weird, Tom Hiddleston’s delight­ful Asgar­dian prince steals the Space Stone dur­ing the time heist as depicted in Avengers: Endgame and essen­tially learns there are vari­ants of him­self, and that the mul­ti­verse exists. The char­ac­ter devel­op­ment and growth are what did it for us, and we can’t wait to see where the flawed-but-redeemed god goes in the follow-up.

 

Shang-Chi and the Leg­end of the Ten Rings

The upcom­ing film focus­ing on Mar­vel super­hero Shang-Chi has the poten­tial to be huge. Fea­tur­ing wuxia and a comic book cor­rect ver­sion of the Man­darin, Shang-Chi looks to be a great mix of action and story, with our beloved Michelle Yeoh in yet another MCU role. We’re inter­ested to see how the Ten Rings plays into the larger MCU and their power and scope as com­pared to other arti­facts we’ve seen. Also, lead actor Simu Liu is hot, as is the esteemed leg­end Tony Leung.

 

Black Pan­ther: Wakanda Forever

The sequel to our top-three Mar­vel movie con­tender is shap­ing up nicely. We were ini­tially unsure how the film would move for­ward with the death of Chad­wick Bose­man, but it seems that it will be addressed in the open­ing scenes. Con­firm­ing that he will not be recast is a great start, because we wouldn’t watch it if Mar­vel did. There will be a new Black Pan­ther mantle-holder, and we expect this follow-up will be glorious.

 

Doc­tor Strange and the Mul­ti­verse of Madness

We like Dr. Strange around here, and he’s impor­tant enough to war­rant another few movies. With the end of Wan­daVi­sion, Dr. Strange’s sequel film will be impor­tant in the grand scheme of Marvel’s machine for Phase Four. The events of the first MCU show and Loki made it plain that Dr. Strange will be needed to tra­verse the mad­ness unleashed by the intro­duc­tion of the mul­ti­verse and Kang the Con­queror, so this is film has quickly become impor­tant to the future of the MCU.

 

New squads introduced

It did not escape notice that there were sev­eral char­ac­ters intro­duced recently that could poten­tially form other groups out­side of the Avengers. Wan­daVi­sion intro­duced Wic­can and Speed, Wanda’s kids in Young Avengers; Mon­ica Ram­beau, who is a Cap­tain Mar­vel title­holder; and, Agatha Hark­ness, who could join any num­ber of vil­lain groups. Cap­tain Amer­ica and the Win­ter Sol­dier intro­duced Eli Bradley, who is Patriot of the Young Avengers; Val, who is Madame Hydra at some point; and, U.S. Agent, a mem­ber of Dark Avengers and Thun­der­bolts. Loki gave us a hybrid Lady Loki/Enchantress in Sylvie and Kid Loki, who is part of Young Avengers. Black Widow pro­vided Yelena Belova, who becomes Black Widow II, and Shang-Chi’s trailer con­firmed Abom­i­na­tion is still around.

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Strip Talk #30: Marvel winning war; let me tell you why

It should be obvi­ous by now that we love comics here at Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. Very obvi­ous. I have been a comic book fan — no mat­ter the com­pany — for a long time. I was doing read­ing, writ­ing and arith­metic and perus­ing comic books well before there was a Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse or a DC Uni­verse. But let me be the first to tell you: I love Mar­vel a lot more than DC, and a lot of that can be gleaned from cur­rent happenings.

Bor­ing film writ­ing: There are house­hold names there: Joker, Bat­man, Super­man, Won­der Woman, The Flash. Why is it that none of the DC ensem­ble movies or ver­sus movies can get off the ground? They have the more well-known super­heroes. Their sta­ble is full of inter­est­ing sto­ries. But none of this can trans­late to film it seems. The most inter­est­ing film in the past 15 years involved Super­man “dying” and then res­ur­rect­ing to fight the Jus­tice League. Insert sigh here.

Incon­sis­tency: Bat­man and Super­man have been done to death. There have been too many actors putting on the cape and cowl for both char­ac­ters, and it’s a dis­trac­tion. I loved Michael Keaton as the bat; my love has been well doc­u­mented here, and yet, we have another name pop­ping up for the role in the film world. I counted five for Bat­man alone — Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney, Bale and Affleck. You know who played Iron Man? Robert Downey Jr. for all solo char­ac­ter films and all ensem­ble films. You know what that tells me? No con­sis­tency is to be had, and it shows in the uneven product.

Retreads: Mar­vel is guilty of this, too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty tired of Spider-Man and his mil­lions of dif­fer­ent ori­gin story retreads every time they change the actor; also, I’m not a Spider-Man fan. But this is get­ting ridicu­lous with DC and its “Sny­der Cut Pol­icy.” Stop remak­ing movies every time you feel one that you com­mis­sioned and spent a lot of time on some­how mag­i­cally fails at the box office. If they reboot any Bat­man or Super­man, Sui­cide Squad, Jus­tice League or Teen Titans prop­erty one more time, we riot. And, let me state for the record: Allow­ing the Sny­der Cut sets a dan­ger­ous prece­dence that we need not allow. What will be the next movie released that gets the “director’s cut” treat­ment that should have been the orig­i­nal ver­sion to start with?

DC is floun­der­ing but the sit­u­a­tion can be turned around. The love for DC char­ac­ters is abun­dant, and they do have sav­ing graces in their ani­mated and tele­vi­sion prop­er­ties. DC’s tele­vi­sion game has always been excel­lent and strong in terms of cohe­sive sto­ry­telling and rich expe­ri­ences. In fact, Mar­vel has tra­di­tion­ally strug­gled in that area and is just now enter­ing that arena. But DC needs to step it up in the film mar­ket­place; there is enough for every­one to get a bag and come out like rob­ber barons in the super­hero movie game. I really need DC to get it together over on their side and give me some­thing to take my atten­tion away from the MCU. Because as a fan, when every­one does well, I win.

Lyn­d­sey Beatty is editor-in-chief of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. She can be reached by email at lyn­d­seyh [at] gaminginsurrection.com

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Property Review: The Boys Season 1

The Boys are back in town

Ama­zon, 2019

In your face. Grue­some. Over the top. Raw.

That’s how we’d describe the vis­ceral reac­tion we had to The Boys in its inau­gural sea­son on Ama­zon Prime. We were famil­iar with the Garth Ennis graphic novel from many years back, and we were eagerly antic­i­pat­ing the adap­ta­tion once it was announced.

It did not disappoint.

Open­ing the story, A-Train, a speed­ster like Marvel’s Quick­sil­ver, lit­er­ally runs through pro­tag­o­nist Wee Hughie’s (a phe­nom­e­nal Jack Quaid) girl­friend Robin acci­den­tally while hopped up on drugs. Him bar­rel­ing into her at super­hu­man speed causes her to explode instantly, trau­ma­tiz­ing Hughie as he was hold­ing her hands when the col­li­sion hap­pened. Hughie can’t find solace in Robin’s death and the after­math of receiv­ing com­pen­sa­tion for his loss. Wan­der­ing aim­lessly in grief, he finds like-minded indi­vid­u­als start­ing with Billy Butcher, played by the breath­tak­ing Karl Urban, who advises him to get his hands dirty and get revenge on the Seven because it’s the right thing to do and it’s “diabolical.”

Spread­ing the dia­bol­i­cal is the omnipresent Home­lander, played bril­liantly by Antony Starr. If you ever won­der what mix­ing Super­man and Cap­tain Amer­ica with a side of Bizarro would cre­ate, you have Home­lander. Home­lander, with his all-American good looks and charm is, in real­ity, one of the most depraved super beings in the his­tory of super beings. In his capac­ity as the leader of the Seven, a cor­po­rate spon­sored super­hero group, Home­lander keeps the sub­or­di­nates in check but thinks noth­ing of mur­der­ing a plane full of peo­ple twice (!) to achieve his own goals or keep the Vought Inter­na­tional name clean.

The twists and turns and dis­cov­ery of Homelander’s devi­ous fake­out of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion is equal parts engross­ing, fun, grue­some and, well, dia­bol­i­cal. Every­one in the Seven has some sort of issue, but Home­lander is the cream of the crop. Or so he says. By the end of the sea­son, you will come to love and hate Home­lander enough that if you haven’t read the graphic novel, you will hunt it down just to get the unfil­tered ver­sion of the super menace.

Every­one plays their role to per­fec­tion, just nice enough on the sur­face but nasty enough on the other side that you know the mass mar­ket­ing appeal of the char­ac­ters isn’t going to last long. The story moves along at a nice pace, get­ting you to know the Seven and their impact on the world around them, and their coun­ter­parts in Butcher’s gang. It’s a fun, solid ride that makes you ques­tion every­thing you know about super­heroes. What if they weren’t benev­o­lent do-gooders and did stuff like par­tic­i­pate in an orgy — the upcom­ing third sea­son Hero­gasm arc? Who keeps them in check and how is that accom­plished when they have pow­ers that can lit­er­ally change the world but they’re incom­pe­tent and amoral? The Boys aims to under­stand all of that in the gori­est way pos­si­ble. Sea­son 1 ends on a cliffhanger and sets up future good­ness in the already-released Sea­son 2 and the com­ing Sea­son 3. Expect more dia­bol­i­cal fun because this bril­liant sendup of comic book fol­lies is fan­tas­tic at judg­ing those who save us.

Like the comics: 9

Act­ing: 8

Story: 10

Total: 27/30 or 9

HOW WE GRADE

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 11

The light at the end of the Death Note tun­nel is clear

Light, Light, Light. I keep find­ing more rea­sons for con­fin­ing Mr. Yagami to a high-level men­tal health facil­ity than hav­ing him in ANY level of employ­ment in pub­lic safety. Through­out the entire series review­ing this manga series, the ques­tion of “How can one jus­tify killing inno­cent peo­ple in order to make a bet­ter world,” keeps pop­ping back in my head, with no cred­i­ble answers.

Vol­ume 11 begins with Light, Misa and the task force headed back to Japan to avoid cap­ture by Near, the SPK and Mello. Light’s return to Japan pro­vides him breath­ing room to set up his plans in con­trol­ling the Kira inves­ti­ga­tion and con­trol Mikami’s move­ments as Kira. How­ever, Near cor­rectly deduces Light’s escape to Japan and fol­lows suit to cap­ture Kira in his own domain, using Hal Lin­der as a poten­tial mem­ber of Kiy­omi Takada’s female secu­rity team. At the same time, Misa is asked by Yoshida Pro­duc­tions to per­form at the annual New Year’s show. Once Near arrives in Japan, he con­tacts Light to inform him that he is also in Japan to lure Kira out of hid­ing. Both L’s decide to use that call to begin prepa­ra­tions for their final plans to bat­tle each other.

Fur­ther in the story, Light con­tin­ues to use Takada to his advan­tage by exchang­ing writ­ten notes to avoid detec­tion by the task force and com­mu­ni­cate with Mikami. Takada is OK with the plan, but she began her own plan to secure her posi­tion with Light by ask­ing Misa to join her for a late din­ner. At the din­ner, Mogi and Lin­der are present, but Lin­der was ordered by Takada to stand by in case Misa got bel­liger­ent. For the sake of time, I’ll say that the din­ner didn’t not go well. Mean­while, another SPK agent named Gevanni starts his stake out of Mikami and has noticed that he has killed a sub­way pas­sen­ger for harass­ing a female pas­sen­ger with­out using the Death Note. Act­ing on Gevanni’s report, Near and Rester began the final stages of plan­ning to cap­ture Kira/Light.

At the New Year’s show, Takada announces that Misa has not yet arrived, forc­ing Light and the task force to search for her and Mogi. At that moment, Near con­tacts Light stat­ing that he has taken Misa and Mogi into pro­tec­tive cus­tody. Light, inwardly enraged, acts con­cerned in front of the task force by telling Misa and Mogi that they are free to leave at any time they want.

At the same time, Gevanni fol­lows Mikami to a local gym and was able to touch the Death Note that was in Mikami’s brief bag. With Gevanni’s report, Near decides to make a replica Death Note and set the date, time and place for the final bat­tle: a ware­house near Daikoku Wharf in Yoko­hama. On the day of their meet­ing, Takada arrives at NHN Stu­dio for her news pro­gram when Matt arrives fir­ing a smoke grenade at Takada. While the secu­rity team sur­rounds her, Mello, dis­guised as a motor­cy­clist wor­ship­per of Kira, tells Lin­der to place Takada on the bike. When Takada is on the bike with Mello, Lin­der has two secu­rity units to fol­low them while the remain­ing secu­rity team goes after Matt. When Takada was out of dan­ger, Mello ignored requests from the secu­rity detail to hand her over to them and escapes into a nar­row alley with Takada as his prisoner.

This vol­ume is a nice way to setup a cli­matic end for the series. Every detail from art­work to sto­ry­line was strong enough to cre­ate their own impact with­out los­ing plot focus. I applauded the chess-like moves that Light and Near employed with Swiss clock-like pre­ci­sion in each of their plans giv­ing them flex­i­bil­ity in each sit­u­a­tion. Also, the devel­op­ment for each char­ac­ter was not stale, espe­cially for Misa, Takada, and Lin­der, who all got equal scene time in each chap­ter. I found the din­ner scene with Misa and Takada hilar­i­ous when Misa tells Takada that she and Kira will be killed when he is cap­tured, and Takada coun­ters with host author­ity of the New Year’s show to pre­vent Misa’s engage­ment to Light. Also, Lin­der was fea­tured in superb mul­ti­task­ing as a most trusted body­guard while being a dou­ble agent and ref­eree between Kira’s two suit­ors. Ohba-san and Obata-san again showed their mas­tery in cre­at­ing a worth­while series. Credit is also owed to Tet­suichiro Miyazi, who per­formed adap­ta­tion and trans­la­tion duties.

This is it. The bat­tle that we waited for, dear read­ers, is here. L’s heirs and Light Yagami fight­ing to the death, not for praise but intel­lec­tual supe­ri­or­ity. As I ready myself to write the final review of Death Note, I can­not find any rea­son why I should not re-read this series or re-watch the anime. Do shinigami really exist? Only time will tell. I can offer this analy­sis, though: A bat­tle of anime and manga’s most intrigu­ing intel­lec­tu­als will end, with ONLY one left standing.

Bran­don Beatty is asso­ciate edi­tor of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

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Marvel character highlight #28: Iron Fist

Name: Daniel Rand-K’ai

Alias: Iron Fist, Dare­devil, Dare­devil 2.0, Devil, Spider-Man

Affil­i­a­tion: Defend­ers, Heroes for Hire, Rand Cor­po­ra­tion, Immor­tal Weapons, New Avengers, Thun­der­bolts, Mid­night Sons

Spe­cial abil­i­ties: Chi aug­men­ta­tion; peak human endurance, strength, speed, agility, and sta­mina; super­hu­man pain and injury resis­tance; energy absorp­tion; and, a mas­ter mar­tial artist and acrobat

Back­ground: Danny Rand was born to busi­ness­man Wen­dell Rand, who once lived in K’un Lun. K’un Lun, sit­u­ated in another dimen­sion, could only be found once every 10 years through an inter­di­men­sional nexus. Through treach­ery, Rand’s par­ents were killed and the peo­ple of K’un Lun found Rand and trained him. When he was 19, he fought to acquire the power of the Iron Fist, through a fight to the death with Shou-Lao the Undy­ing. Win­ning the bat­tle, he earned the power and returned to Amer­ica. Once he returned, he was intro­duced to Colleen Wing and her father and later learned the truth about his par­ents’ mur­ders. Rand later teamed with Misty Knight and Luke Cage to form Heroes for Hire and the Defenders.

Rela­tion­ships: Misty Knight, part­ner and for­mer lover; Luke Cage, part­ner; Colleen Wing, partner

First Ver­sus appear­ance: Ulti­mate Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3

Appear­ances in other media:

Tele­vi­sion: The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Might­i­est Heroes, Ulti­mate Spider-Man, LEGO Mar­vel Super Heroes: Max­i­mum Over­load, Wolver­ine: Weapon X (motion comic), Avengers: Secret Wars, Mar­vel Future Avengers, Iron Fist (Net­flix series), The Defend­ers (Net­flix series), Luke Cage (Net­flix series)

Video games: Spider-Man and Venom: Max­i­mum Car­nage (SNES, Sega Gen­e­sis), Spider-Man: Lethal Foes, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, Mar­vel: Ulti­mate Alliance 2, Ulti­mate Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3, Mar­vel Avengers Alliance, Lit­tleBig­Planet, Mar­vel Heroes, LEGO Mar­vel Super Heroes, Dis­ney Infin­ity: Mar­vel Super Heroes, Dis­ney Infin­ity 3.0, Mar­vel Con­test of Cham­pi­ons, Mar­vel: Future Fight, Mar­vel Puz­zle Quest, Mar­vel: Ulti­mate Alliance 3: The Black Order

 

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Anime Lounge #20: My Hero Academia Season 1

Series: My Hero Academia

Episodes: 1 to 13

Premise: A young boy, Izuku Midoriya, from Japan lives in a world where at least 80 per­cent of soci­ety is born with some type of extra spe­cial abil­ity, called quirks. Quirks are used by a seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion to fight crime, and Midoriya idol­izes the world-famous All Might, the No. 1-ranked hero. After a chance encounter with his idol, quirk­less Midoriya begins to train with All Might to gain his passed-down quirk One for All. Midoriya’s jour­ney to becom­ing the No. 1 hero is chron­i­cled as he joins U.A. High School and learns the true mean­ing of becom­ing a hero.

Is it worth watch­ing?: YES. We love the X-Men, and My Hero Acad­e­mia is basi­cally an anime ver­sion of the Mar­vel sta­ple. If you love super-powered antics, com­pelling heroes and vil­lains and tight, deep writ­ing, My Hero Acad­e­mia is a phe­nom­e­nal choice. It starts a lit­tle slow, but once it gets going, it gets GOOD.

Break­out char­ac­ter: Todor­oki Shoto. In the first sea­son, it’s all about the dual-natured boy who wields fire and ice as one quirk. He seems frosty at first but his intro­duc­tion is noth­ing short of daz­zling, and he quickly becomes a favorite because of his power and stoic expres­sion. Iida Tenya and Midoriya are close in terms of engag­ing. You want to root for both char­ac­ters as they grow. All the teach­ers are top-notch char­ac­ters as well, but Shota Aizawa aka Eraser­head is our favorite. He stands out from the pack in terms of his cool but basic cos­tume and the sheer strength of his quirk Era­sure, which nul­li­fies quirks within his vision range until he blinks.

Best episode: Episode 5: What I Can Do For Now. Midoriya has already entered Class 1A by pass­ing the entrance exam, but now he’s in the big leagues and has to demon­strate what he knows about One For All. The cool thing about this episode is, while Midoriya knows he doesn’t have con­trol over the quirk just yet, he doesn’t give up. In fact, he tries hard enough that Aizawa-san real­izes that he’s try­ing to get the quirk together. Aizawa has enough fore­sight to real­ize that Midoriya doesn’t have con­trol because he likely wasn’t born with it like the oth­ers in his class. Thus, he starts becom­ing sus­pi­cious but curi­ous enough to allow Midoriya to con­tinue in the class. This shows growth for all involved in just five episodes.

Where it’s going?: As Midoriya gets more com­fort­able with hav­ing the ultra-powerful One for All, look for the stakes to ramp up for Class 1A as they train to become heroes.

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Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book squads edition

Teenage Mutant Ninja Tur­tles: The green crew with atti­tude shows up on a vari­ety of our favorite lists. We grew up in an era where the Tur­tles ruled every­thing for a good solid three years, cul­mi­nat­ing with the sec­ond live-action film. What most of the youn­gins didn’t know is that the Tur­tles got their start in comics in black-and-white incar­na­tions in 1984. The comics are highly sought after now because of their rarity.

The X-Men: Charles Xavier’s men have always been our favorite group of super­heroes. The merry mutants have always been at the fore­front of soci­etal issues (mutan­tism equals racism to a degree), and the group has always been relat­able. We’re excited that the comic book main­stays are com­ing into the MCU at some point; they deserve to be done justice.

The Avengers: Given there are numer­ous line­ups and dif­fer­ent loca­tions for the Avengers, we must nar­row down this pick to any squad fea­tur­ing Steve Rogers’ Cap­tain Amer­ica. To us, it isn’t the Avengers proper unless Rogers is involved to lead the charge. And, yes, we’re quite fond of the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse ver­sion of the group.

Jus­tice League: No list on squads would be com­plete with­out the cur­rent DC uni­verse lineup. Every­one on the squad is nec­es­sary: There is no Jus­tice League with­out Super­man, Bat­man, Won­der Woman, the Flash, Aqua­man or Cyborg. Despite the most recent movie not being a cohe­sive flick, the squad rep­re­sented there is the core expe­ri­ence that is the Jus­tice League. Also, it made Aqua­man cool.

The Boys: Rel­a­tively obscure until the recently fan­tas­tic Ama­zon Prime show, the Boys are great at one thing: stop­ping the dia­bol­i­cal supes of their uni­verse. Billy Butcher is cool as hell, and his entire crew is messed up in some way but loyal and awe­some. In the same vein, the Seven are amoral and ridicu­lously lead by Home­lander but just as shady and more weird than the Boys.

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Otaku Corner: Gundam Thunderbolt Vol. 1

Gun­dam side story delves deeper in the mecha ethos

“Only the dead know the end of war.” — Plato

As many of our read­ers know of my love for the Gun­dam series, I have men­tioned the series’ leg­endary mark on anime and pop cul­ture many times. Manga is no excep­tion since numer­ous Gun­dam series were printed out and read by many Gun­dam fans and big robot lovers, alike.

On a recent trip to 2nd & Charles, I found one of a few English-translated adap­ta­tions of Gun­dam manga that was a side story set dur­ing the events of the orig­i­nal series. While the main char­ac­ters were not present in this series, it nev­er­the­less told of the widen­ing con­flict between the Prin­ci­pal­ity of Zeon and the Earth Fed­er­a­tion as seen through the eyes of two des­tined indi­vid­u­als, each with their own views of jus­tice. “Mobile Suit Gun­dam: Thun­der­bolt “was my ticket to this lat­est chap­ter of the Gun­dam Universe.

Set in the Uni­ver­sal Cen­tury year 0079, the space colony Side 3 declared inde­pen­dence as con­flict between Zeon and Earth began. One year later, both sides engaged in a bat­tle for an area of destroyed space colonies known as the Thun­der­bolt sec­tor. Dur­ing this period, Daryl Lorenz, top sniper for a spe­cial unit known as the Liv­ing Dead Divi­sion, has enabled Zeon forces to con­trol Thun­der­bolt sec­tor with­out loss. How­ever, his luck changes when Io Flem­ing, ace pilot for the Earth Federation’s Moore Broth­er­hood fleet, ambushes a Liv­ing Dead mem­ber, killing him and tak­ing an enemy Zaku suit. As a result, Io is given a new mis­sion to fur­ther dis­rupt Zeon con­trol but with a new mobile suit: Gundam.

As the Liv­ing Dead dis­cover that a Gun­dam is being used, the bat­tle between Io and Daryl inten­si­fies amid the wreck­age of Io’s home colony, Side 4: More. With both sides hell­bent on each other’s destruc­tion, a new rivalry is set in the Gun­dam saga with var­i­ous music types pro­vid­ing the sound­track to a bat­tle where there is only one victor.

Read­ing MSG: Thun­der­bolt is a new take on the bat­tle between Earth and space. While Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino pro­vided the orig­i­nal story, Yasuo Ohta­gaki pro­vided a fresh per­spec­tive via story and art. I felt invested in Daryl and Io because tragedy has taken away hap­pier times in their lives. Both char­ac­ters were born in afflu­ent fam­i­lies who pros­pered as mer­chants, but war upended their lives. Daryl became a solider but was severely injured los­ing both legs, which gained his fam­ily the right to reset­tle on a Zeon colony and other ben­e­fits. He also had to adapt to using pros­thetic legs to regain his abil­ity to walk and to use a mobile suit.

Io lost his father, who was mayor of Side 4, to sui­cide dur­ing the Zeon assault. For­tu­nately, Io’s friends Clau­dia Peer, who is his com­mand­ing offi­cer (and lover), and Cor­nelius Qaqa, the fleet’s engi­neer, are there with him to carry the task of aveng­ing their lost home. Daryl also has the sup­port of his unit, who are also deal­ing with the hell­ish results of war. Ohtagaki-san’s detail to story and art was excel­lent from start to fin­ish, espe­cially with the designs of the Gun­dam, Zaku and Rick Dom suits.

The in-between drama for Io and Daryl is also accu­rate in show­ing the types of prob­lem that mil­i­tary ser­vice­mem­bers may deal with dur­ing and in between bat­tles. At these points in the manga, I felt that pulling for both char­ac­ters is jus­ti­fi­able as they are fight­ing a phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal war on all fronts. Finally, the music selec­tion closed the deal for me while read­ing Thun­der­bolt. Jazz and pop music set each chap­ter tone as if I was part of the bat­tle. Viz Media did a great job on adap­ta­tion and trans­la­tion of Thun­der­bolt with praise going to STAN! And Joe Yamazaki for care­fully pre­sent­ing Thun­der­bolt. They pre­sented the side story care­fully with­out com­pro­mis­ing what Gun­dam is about.

MSG: Thun­der­bolt is one of the few Gun­dam manga adap­ta­tions I felt did jus­tice to a series with­out sac­ri­fic­ing its cru­cial parts to tell its story. As Daryl and Io con­tinue their bat­tle, I plan to review their bat­tles in the future.

Bran­don Beatty is asso­ciate edi­tor of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

We remem­ber Kirby Mor­row, 1973–2020

I’m ded­i­cat­ing this review to the mem­ory of Kirby Mor­row. Mor­row — best known for voic­ing Trowa Bar­ton from Gun­dam Wing, Billy Kata­giri from Gun­dam 00, Teru Mikami from Death Note and Miroku from the Inyusha series and its recent spin­off Yashahime: Princess Half Demon — passed on Nov. 18, 2020. Rest in peace, Kirby. You are for­ever loved. You are for­ever remem­bered. You are for­ever Gun­dam.

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Marvel character highlight #27: MODOK

Name: M.O.D.O.K. (Men­tal Organ­ism Designed Only for Killing)

Alias: George Tar­leton (real name), Big Head, Chair­man, Damo­cles Rivas, Ger­lach, M.O.D.O.C. (Men­tal Organ­ism Designed Only for Com­put­ing), M.O.D.O.F. (Men­tal Organ­ism Designed Only for Fun), Mis­ter Potato Head, Moddy, the Saint, Sci­en­tist Supreme

Affil­i­a­tion: A.I.M., Intel­li­gen­cia, K Sector

Spe­cial abil­i­ties: Super genius intel­lect, tele­ki­netic blasts, force field pro­jec­tion, telepa­thy, mind control

Back­ground: George Tar­leton worked as a tech­ni­cian at A.I.M. in Penn­syl­va­nia. He was exper­i­mented on by the Sci­en­tist Supreme, which resulted in a muta­tion of a large head and dra­mat­i­cally increased intel­lect. Once the exper­i­men­ta­tion was com­plete, George was dubbed M.O.D.O.C (Men­tal Organ­ism Designed Only for Com­put­ing) and placed in a weight-assisting vehi­cle to sup­port his com­i­cally over­sized head. Because of his vastly supe­rior intel­lect, M.O.D.O.K. quickly over­threw his for­mer boss and changed his name to reflect his mur­der­ous mind­set. M.O.D.O.K. has since been depow­ered and returned to a nor­mal human state by Amadeus Cho (aka Totally Awe­some Hulk).

Rela­tion­ships: M.O.D.O.K. Supe­rior, clone; Sean Madi­gan (Head Case), son

First Ver­sus appear­ance: Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3

Appear­ances in other media:

Tele­vi­sion: Iron Man (1994 ani­mated series), Iron Man: Armored Adven­tures, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Might­i­est Heroes, Ulti­mate Spider-Man, Avengers Assem­ble, Phineas and Ferb: Mis­sion Mar­vel, Guardians of the Galaxy (ani­mated short), Mar­vel Disk Wars: The Avengers, Spider-Man (2010s ani­mated series), New War­riors (can­celed show), M.O.D.O.K. (upcom­ing ani­mated series)

Video games: Mar­vel: Ulti­mate Alliance, Mar­vel Super Hero Squad, Mar­vel Super Hero Squad: The Infin­ity Gaunt­let, Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3, Ulti­mate Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3, Mar­vel Super Hero Squad: Comic Com­bat, Mar­vel Super Hero Squad Online, Mar­vel: Avengers Alliance, Iron Man 3: The Offi­cial Game, Mar­vel Heroes, Dis­ney Infin­ity: Mar­vel Super Heroes, Mar­vel Future Fight, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Mar­vel vs. Cap­com: Infi­nite, Mar­vel: Con­test of Cham­pi­ons, Mar­vel Ulti­mate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel’s Avengers

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Property Review: Iron Man

The first com­ing of Tony Stark is one of the best MCU ori­gin stories

Iron Man
Mar­vel Stu­dios, 2008

The one that started them all. The metaphor­i­cal start of Robert Downey Jr.’s comic book-like redemp­tion arc. The birth­place of the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse. The begin­ning of the begin­ning. All of these titles are appro­pri­ate for Iron Man, the 2008 ori­gin story of vet­eran Avenger Tony Stark. Another title to throw in there? Magnificent.

It’s not just the tight story telling or excel­lent act­ing chops of the main cast. It’s also see­ing Stark make his turn into the Avenger we all know and love. Stark starts out super hedo­nis­tic and self-serving. Through his wound­ing and sub­se­quent cap­ture by the Ten Rings orga­ni­za­tion, lit­tle by lit­tle, you see Stark have the needed epiphany that he was, in fact, War Machine, not Iron Man. Half of its fun ride comes from this need to see him come to that real­iza­tion. The other half is, of course, learn­ing that Stark can apply his genius for good and pro­duc­tive ways while still being the bil­lion­aire phil­an­thropic play­boy he declares him­self to be to Steve Rogers in the later Avengers film.

Where Iron Man par­tic­u­larly suc­ceeds, how­ever, is the par­al­lel Stark shares with per­fect por­trayer Robert Downey Jr. What most new gen­er­a­tion Mar­vel fans don’t real­ize is, is when Iron Man was casted, Downey Jr. was not the bank­able star that he is now. The man’s past is well known to older fans and caused sev­eral — includ­ing him­self — to pause.

But the sin­gle most com­pelling thing about Downey Jr. is his will to bet­ter him­self, work every day like most oth­ers to redeem him­self and grow. That indomitable will shows in every sec­ond that Downey Jr. is Tony Stark/Iron Man. He is Iron Man. He is the liv­ing embod­i­ment of the char­ac­ter who strug­gled to redeem him­self and be a team player. Downey Jr. is such per­fect cast­ing that there is no one else that could ever step into the role. He became the character.

And for all that Iron Man suc­ceeds in doing bom­bas­ti­cally, it qui­etly sets up the rest of the cin­e­matic uni­verse per­fectly. Iron Man in its stum­bling glory is what we now know as the stan­dard for a Mar­vel movie. It makes Stark relat­able, tells his super­hero ori­gin story and sets up future films with a deft­ness that reminds us that there is, in fact, a plan for all of this. Now that we’ve seen that plan unfold, we can come back and praise the begin­ning for all that it is. The heart and soul of the MCU lives on.

Like the comics: 8

Act­ing: 8.5

Story: 8

Total: 24.5/30 or 8

HOW WE GRADE

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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